What are the white spots on Betta fish?

Here, we will learn what are the White spots on Betta fish, what are the treatments and also about how to avoid similar contamination.

What are the white spots on Betta fish?

If you observed your Betta fish and detected small white spots on it, it is probably an Ich contamination. Ich or white spots disease is caused by a ciliate protozoan called Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, which is an ectoparasite. This type of infection is quite common in freshwater fish tanks, mainly in cold weather areas. If not treated carefully this infection may result in your Betta fish death. 

The parasites responsible for the white spots disease are unicellular organisms. They can stay long periods without a food source. As a result, Ich contamination might require a lot of attention and effort to get rid of it.

Symptoms of white spots disease

The easiest manner of identifying white spots disease on your Betta fish is visual. If your fish starts showing little white spots, it is the first sign of Ich. These whites spots can be distributed along the Betta fish’s entire body, mainly in its fins. However, if the parasites instal themselves on the gills, they can cause respiratory issues.

Once the white spots disease also causes itching and skin irritation, it is common that your fish start rubbing and scratching on rocks and other structures in your tank. This behaviour, if not given attention may result in wounds, and these wounds can be the entrance to other types of contamination.

As a result of the symptoms above, some others can be developed, such as scale loss, swimming, feeding, and respiratory limitations, with heavy breathing on the surface. These symptoms are more evident on fish that have issues with their immunologic system, and on Betta fish that are infected for long periods without ideal treatment.

In advanced infections, it is common that your Betta fish become lethargic. The disease can affect the Betta fish so hard that swimming becomes very difficult and they can even look dead.

This disease is potentially fatal. Thus, if your fish is contaminated, it will require immediate care. The not so bad news is that white spots disease treatment is quite simple.

What are the causes of white spots disease? 

Experts believe that the majority of the pet fish tank is contaminated by this parasite, or have already been someday. These organisms are so widely spread that most healthy fish present a very efficient immunologic response to Ich.

However, there are periods during which the Betta fish immunologic system might be compromised and they become vulnerable to the white spots disease. This could be during stressful periods, such as sudden changes in temperature, pH, or new individuals in the tank. 

The tank water contamination can be associated with the introduction of new fish or new items, plants and décor, even new types of food, normally natural ones could carry the parasite. 

Thus, the cause of the white spots disease is directly related to two factors: Ichthyophthrius multifiliis introduction in the tank and issues with your Betta fish immunologic system.

Once your Betta fish tank is contaminated, any fall of your Betta fish immunity can result in an infection. Among the main factors that can increase this vulnerability are:

–       Fish transportation & Management;

–       Poor maintenance;

–       Temperature changes;

–       Crowded tank;

–       Inadequate feeding.

Fish transportation & Management

If you had a trip, your Betta fish was sent by mail or only moved to another room, your fish may be stressed. Betta fish are very fragile creatures. Thus, even small movements may create very stressful situations for them and consequently, their immune system can be affected. Less traumatic the process, less your fish’s health is impacted. 

Poor maintenance

High rates of ammonia and nitrites make your Betta fish weak and also create favourable conditions for bacteria and fungi proliferation that are harmful to your fish.

Temperature changes

As said before, temperature changes are also stressful to your Betta fish. It is important to keep your equipment functioning, thus having a heater with a thermostat can control this issue.

Crowded tank

If your tank has more than one male Betta fish and less than 20-gallon territory for each Betta, you already have a crowded tank. This is because Betta fish are very territorial. Thus, constant competition and frequent fights create a very stressful atmosphere for your fish, which could lower the immunologic response efficiency.

Inadequate feeding

Many people may try to save some money when buying Betta fish food. However, this cost is an investment, when your Betta fish eat healthily, they end up healthy, avoiding parasites and diseases, and also strong enough to fight any infection they might face.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The recommendation is to take your fish to a specialized veterinarian, the vet would provide you with a precise diagnostic. To take your Betta fish to the vet, you should place it in a round plastic bag with water from the tank, with adequate parameters. If the veterinarian detects Ich, it will be necessary to begin the treatment immediately. 

There are many treatment approaches. It is necessary to attack the problem from different sides to fight white spots disease successfully. There are more natural approaches and more artificial (chemical) ones. But, a combination of these approaches is recommended to fight Ich.

It is important to pay attention to your Betta fish behaviour when treating white spots disease. Any further alteration caused by treatments attempt should interrupt the appliance and call a specialized vet. Few processes for treatment are described below:

Increase Betta fish tank temperature

Adjust the heater between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius for around 18 days, until the white spots disappear. Higher temperatures will provide an unfavourable environment for the parasite reproduction and make them more susceptible to the medicine. Thus, higher temperatures will help you to control the infection.

Marine or Iodine-free salt

During white spots disease treatment, it is recommended to dissolve 7g of marine or iodine-free salt per gallon of your tank. It is known that Ich does not resist salinity over 1 ppt. However, it is very important to take into account the fish species you have with your Betta. Corydoras do not support any salt added to the tank.

Medicines

Some medicines could help you to get rid of white spots disease. They are called parasiticides and function with higher temperatures. They are normally recommended to be applied into the water every 48 hours for a period of low light incidence. After each appliance, the tank lights should be kept turned off. Without filtering but with an oxygen system functioning.

How to prevent white spots on Betta fish?

The parasites are normally carried to the aquarium by a contaminated item or organism. This means that you must know the origin of new fish or animals and the precedence of foods, plants, and décor. 

Any new fish or organisms that you plan to put in the tank should go through quarantine, before going to the main tank. Normally, two weeks are enough to guarantee no disease is being carried to your tank.

Additionally, maintaining your tank equipment in good conditions and always clean also reduces the susceptibility of your fish to the white spots disease. So, you should keep the water parameters constantly under control. It is important to create a routine of testing your tank water regularly.

Conclusion 

In this article, we understood what do white spots on your Betta fish mean. We learnt about a very common freshwater fish disease, Ich, how to identify and treat it. In addition, we also outlined ways to prevent your Betta fish tank from Ich contaminations.

Feel free to join us with a comment or to start a discussion below!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why do Betta make bubbles?

Which are the Betta fish diseases? 

The four main diseases of Betta fish are:

–       Fungi contamination: causes loss of colour along the body, mouth and gills;

–       Hydropsy: causes swelling, breathing problems, lack of appetite and scales bristling;

–       White spots disease: causes itch, scale loss, breathing and swimming limitations;

–       Velvet disease: causes breathing problems, lack of appetite and lethargy.

What can Betta fish eat? 

Betta is a carnivorous fish. They normally accept many types of food, from shrimp, daphnia, and larvae, to fresh or processed foods, such as meat and pâtés.

How do you treat velvet on Betta fish?

It is highly recommended to take your Betta fish to a veterinarian before trying a house treatment. However, if you have already gone, the vet diagnose your Betta disease, and you have forgotten the treatment steps, here they are:

–       Increase water temperature

–       Reduce periods of light or turn the tank lights off;

–       Apply marine or iodine-free salt to the water (if you do not have salinity sensitive fish);

–       Treat with the recommended medicine during at least 10 days;

–       Interrupt filtration, but keep oxygen pumps.

–       water temperature.

How can I tell if my Betta is stressed?

If your Betta fish is stressed they will show some uncommon behaviours, such as: swimming differently from its pattern, biting structures or other fish, hitting walls or the bottom of the tank, rubbing the body on rocks or tank structures, and alterations on feeding habits.

Can a stressed Betta fish recover?

Yes. Although stressful situations may have long term effects, once the cause of the stress is removed or changed, the fish tend to return to their behavioural pattern.

How do I know when my fish is asleep?

It is quite easy to determine if your fish is asleep: their swimming pattern becomes slow, almost motionless, they remain at the bottom of the tank or float near the surface, their breathing is also very slow, and they are slow to give responses to the surroundings.

References 

Peixe com íctio: saiba tudo sobre as causas do problema. PETZ. 2020 https://www.petz.com.br/blog/pets/peixe-com-ictio/

Betta Ich Treatment – Save Your Betta! https://www.bettacarefishguide.com/betta-ich-treatment-save-your-betta/

Betta Fish & Ich: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment. https://bettafish.org/diseases/ich/

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